September 29, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Long before the Android Market had a halfway decent website worth browsing, AppBrain was a godsend for enabling curated lists, browsing the Market from a desktop, and filtering out low-quality apps. Despite the improvements made to the Android Market website, AppBrain has proven worthy because of its ability to make discovering apps easier.
AppBrain Stream will continue that trend by allowing members of the site to see what others are downloading. The Stream is a hub of comments made by people you follow, as well as an activity log of what they download. When someone loads the new flickr app on their phone, you may learn about it on AppBrain before you get a chance to see it pop-up on Android blogs. And if you find the flickr app to be disappointing, post about it on your stream on the best photo apps for Android and links posted in the conversation will integrate with AppBrain listings.
The Stream also displays reviews left by friends, recommendations for apps that you might like, and announcements about updates to apps that you have installed on your phone. Entries can be liked, commented, or shared with others to make the app discovery process more social and provide strong feedback.
I’ve been toying with the feature since yesterday and liked how quickly I was able to discover things, but was immediately worried about how users would control their privacy. For instance, what would happen if someone downloaded a controversial game just to see what the hubbub was about? You wouldn’t want people to think you supported that app. Or more innocently, what if you downloaded an app that might ruin a surprise? Thankfully, AppBrain co-founder Uwe told me that you can make a timeline private to not stream install/uninstall events, and users can manage their settings at http://www.appbrain.com/settings/privacy.
If you would like to only hide a single app you can do this too. There is an “Options” link on every entry in the stream with two choices: To delete the entry, or to delete the entry and make this app private (will not show up again, eg if you uninstall or re install the app later)
AppBrain supports Facebook, Google, and Twitter account linking, so you can log-in now. Facebook and Twitter users can get a jump on the discovery process by seeing a list of their friends who are also using AppBrain. Should you decide to see what I’m putting on my Android phone, follow me at http://www.appbrain.com/user/andrew/